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Is it incorrect to say, 'Give me it' ? I am told that it is and one should always say, 'Give it me'?

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Well, surely the more formal way to say this is "give it to me". Both of the others work in informal settings, and I'm sure in other dialects. –  Joe Kearney Jan 19 '11 at 17:20

3 Answers 3

"Give me it" sounds very odd in Standard English, but so does "give it me". If you want to be on the safe side, I would go with "give it to me".

There are, however, dialects where "give me it" and "give it me" are acceptable or even preferred, see e.g. this BBC article:

Lancashire is a rich area in which to study accent, dialect and grammar as Willem [Hollman, an expert in linguistics and a lecturer at Lancaster University,] explains: "If I were say, playing with my pen in a very annoying way, and you were to take the pen away from me, I might tell you, "Hey, that's my pen, give it me!" but there's also speakers who wouldn't say "Give it to me!" but who would say "Give me it!" and then there's also speakers who would say "Give it me!" This last order "Give it me!" is not very common in Britain in general, but what we find in Lancashire is it's actually the preferred pattern."

I also found this interesting quote on Google Books, in a book titled "The Edinburgh history of the Scots language":

[...] there is some indication as to what might have been happening to the serialisation of indirect and direct objects in the course of the Modern Scots period in Cheshire et al. (1993: 74). They point out that, in English, "give me it is a more recent construction than give it me, which in turn is a more recent construction than give it to me, where the prepositional group to me reflects the function of the Old English dative case". They report that Hughes and Trudgill (1987) give the order give me it as that most usually cited in descriptions of present-day standard English, but they also state that the reverse order is common among educated speakers in the north of England and is acceptable to many southern English speakers as well. This would suggest that [...] the order [...] give me it is gradually taking over from give it me and the even older give it to me. No dates are given here for the introduction of the newer word order in England, but it would appear that Beattie and his fellows objected to give me it because it was an innovation rather than, or as well as, because it was a Scotticism.

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I definitely say "give me it" with no problem whatsoever. It doesn't sound sophisticated by any means, but it is completely natural. –  Kosmonaut Jan 19 '11 at 17:14
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Funny...I don't say "give me it" (I prefer "give me that" or "give it to me") but I do say "give it here". –  Jon Purdy Jan 19 '11 at 17:21
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Give it me is unambiguously wrong. An indirect object in English has to precede the direct object, unless you add to. –  JSBձոգչ Jan 19 '11 at 17:47
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@Joe, really? Where are you from? I'm pretty sure that I've never heard a native speaker deliberately say something like give it me in my entire life. –  JSBձոգչ Jan 19 '11 at 18:15
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@JSBangs: it's also used a number of times in Shakespeare (consistent with it being the older form, as mentioned in the quote in RegDwight's answer about Scots): "I pray thee, give it me" (Midsummer Night's Dream); "A good wench, give it me." (Othello); "I was sure your lordship did not give it me." (Julius Caesar) –  psmears Jan 19 '11 at 19:31

The construction is perfectly good: in English, you can put an indirect object before the direct object, without a preposition, as

Give the dog a bone.
Give the man a cigar.

However, I find it a bit awkward to do so when the direct object (the thing you are giving) is a small as the word "it", and would more likely say give it to me.

On the other hand, I find no problem with show me it.

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+1 for expounding on common parlance. If someone says "give me it", I'll understand what they mean, but I personally would almost always use "give it to me." It just seems awkward to say "give me it." –  Andy Jan 19 '11 at 19:51
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+1. The grammar seems fine to me but for reasons I can't explain it sounds awkward. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 20 '11 at 15:02

The it should refer to something that is already known, as used to avoid repeating yourself. Instead of:

That's my book. Give me the book!

you could use:

That's my book. Give me it!

You would hardly say "Give the book me", even if the special form "Give it me" is used in some places.

If both me and it could be understood by the situation, you could just say (but perhaps not write):

That's my book. Give!

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